Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant – Swingin’ On The Strings, Volume 2

Swingin' On The Strings, Volume 2

This is a followup to the fine Stratosphere Boogie collection from ’95, and like that one, it defies description. I can’t imagine listeners reactions to this stuff when they first heard it back in the ’50s. They must have thought it was country music from aliens. Bryant’s amazing guitar work, imaginative and plain old fast, and West’s killer solos and goofy steel sounds explode through your speakers even today.

For chops, check out their version of Les Paul’s “Lover” Yikes! The liner notes say Les wouldn’t allow this to be released in ’53 and it’s easy to see why. For agility and dazzlingly original soloing, listen to “Two Of A Kind.” There’s the relaxed swing of “Opus 1,” the sheer bluesiness of “T-Bone Rag,” the Hawaiian-esque island sound of “The Rolling Sky,” the boogie of “Pushin’ The Blues,” and the thousand-mile-an-hour country of “China Boy.” Through it all, both players astonish.

There was even a personal bonus for me. When I was a kid growing up in North Dakota, the farm report at noon on KFYR radio featured a song I instantly fell in love with as a 10-year-old. It always stuck in my head, and I even used a variation of it as a break song in a band I was in. I’ve never known what the song was, or who the artists were…until now. It’s cut number 11 – “Railroadin.” Ya gotta love it! Great Stuff.

This review originally appeared in VG‘s June ’99 issue.

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